Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries that may run up expensive medical bills, require pricey medical equipment to treat, and demand time off work for doctor appointments and recovery.
Understanding California’s laws that pertain to slip and fall accidents make it more likely you’ll receive fair compensation for your injuries, though it’s best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in California for personal injury cases, including slip and fall accidents, is two years. This means you have two years after the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. If you are suing only for personal property that was damaged or lost in a slip and fall accident, you have three years to file in civil court.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident on government property or the negligence of a government agency or employee caused the accident, you must provide the government with notice of your claim within six months of the accident.
Liability and Proving Fault
Anyone who owns, leases, controls, or occupies property in California owes a duty of care to protect anyone who is on their property legally from harm. In many cases, a parent company or insurance company is responsible for paying damages to injured parties, rather than a single named person.
If you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you’ll need to prove several things in order to receive compensation to cover your injury expenses and other losses:
- First, you need to prove that the defendant was responsible for the property you were on when you fell.
- You must also prove that the defendant was negligent in some way that was a substantial factor in your injury due to your fall.
For slip and falls, this usually involves showing that there was a condition on the property that increased the risk of falling, that the defendant knew or should have known about the condition, and that the defendant failed to remove or repair the condition or protect people on the property from harm in another way, such as putting up a barrier around the hazard.
Many slip and fall accidents aren’t the fault of a single person; there’s often some blame on the injured person’s part too. California uses a pure comparative negligence rule when determining how much plaintiffs can recover in damages.
Comparative negligence means that courts look at the amount of fault each party had in the accident when they decide on a dollar amount to award. For example, if you suffer a head injury in a slip and fall accident that was deemed 25 percent your fault and accumulate $100,000 worth of damages, the court will reduce your award by your fault percentage, leaving you with $75,000.
The main damages plaintiffs recover from California slip and fall lawsuits are classified as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages reimburse or compensate the injured party for their actual losses. There isn’t a cap on compensatory damages awarded in California slip and fall cases.
Some losses result in economic, or pecuniary, damages. These damages are for losses where an exact dollar amount is easily determined, such as medical bills and lost wages from work. Other losses result in noneconomic damages. Pain and suffering damages are the main non-economic damages that may be awarded in a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit.
In rare cases if a defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, a California court may award a plaintiff in a slip and fall case punitive damages, which are meant to punish the at-fault party rather than compensate the plaintiff for a loss.
Hernandez Law Offices serves personal injury clients in the greater Fresno and Madera, California, areas. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact ustoday to set up a consultation appointment at no cost to you.